A Healthy Hoppin' John Recipe

Around the world, people will be celebrating the New Year with their own special, symbolic foods, which they believe will bring them good luck in the New Year. Here are some of the foods enjoyed around the world in celebration of the New Year. Interestingly, these traditional New Year foods also happen to be healthy!

  • In Japan, soba noodles are eaten for New Year's, the length of the noodles symbolizing long life (don't cut them!). Sweet black beans (kuro-mame) are also eaten, symbolizing the wish for the ability to work diligently and stay well and healthy throughout the year.
  • In the southern United States, black-eye peas (Hoppin' John) when served with collard greens, are believed to bring prosperity. Black-eye peas resemble coins and greens are the color and shape of money.
  • In Germany, Ireland and parts of the United States, green vegetables, including cabbage, collard greens, kale and swiss chard, are associated with luck and fortune since the leaves are green and resemble folded money.
  • Lentils, which are flat and round like coins, are eaten in Italy, as well as in Brazil (with rice or in soup), for good fortune in the New Year.
  • Black beans and rice (Moros y Cristianos) is a popular Cuban dish eaten for New Years for good luck.
  • Pomegranates, which are associated with good luck (the round seeds resemble money and prosperity), abundance and fertility, are eaten in Turkey and other Mediterranean countries.

Although I can't guarantee that eating any of these foods will bring you financial prosperity in the New Year, I do believe that these foods will certainly bring you good health and well being in the New Year.

Cheers and wishing you all a year of healthy living and looking forward to sharing more healthy recipes with you in 2011!

Here's a healthier recipe for Hoppin' John. For a Roundup of Healthy New Year's Recipes, please visit me at Jeanette's Healthy Living.

A Healthier Hoppin’ John

Traditionally, Hoppin’ John is cooked with ham hock and served with collard greens on the side. Rice is also sometimes cooked with the black eye peas.  I’ve used turkey bacon to add the smoky flavor without the fat, and cooked kale, another leafy green vegetable, right  into the Hoppin’ John.  This is delicious served over brown rice.

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 slices turkey bacon (uncured, with no antibiotics or nitrates), cut into ½” pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 cups cooked black eye peas (if using canned beans, rinse and drain well)

1 ½ cups chicken broth, divided

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 bunch kale, thick stem removed, leaves thinly sliced

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add turkey bacon and cook until browned.  Add onion, celery, garlic and crushed red pepper.  Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the black eye peas, 1 cup of chicken broth, fresh thyme and bay leaf.  Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes.  Add kale and remaining ½ cup of chicken broth, and mix well. Cook, covered, for another 5 minutes or until just tender.

Serve over brown rice.

Serves 4-6.

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